Boy asks: ‘So, where do you work?’
Girl replies: ‘At the uni’.
Boys says: ‘Oh yeah, what do you do there?’
Girl answers: ‘I do research around suicide prevention’.
Boy stumbles: ‘Oh you don’t look depressed’.
*more silence* *boy finds excuse to move away*
(not quite the Hollywood meet cute)
I have never been very good at introducing myself. Although no doubt no different to a lot of people, in my head I feel deeply socially awkward and shy, with moments of charm that feel all too fleeting. But I’ve always been fascinated by people’s responses to the work I do. Lots of people see it as just another job, something different to talk about, and we engage in conversation – lots of people are very cool. The people who respond with silence or with rages of vitriol are another story and, in some ways, the vitriolic are easier to deal with. I am entirely capable of fighting the good fight and raging back at them; pulling out all the evidence I can to try and shake the stigma, in whatever way i can. It’s the silence that’s harder because there’s less to work with and the whole thing just makes me feel more awkward than normal.
Admittedly when I was younger, particularly after a long day, I veered between wanting to avoid the silence altogether (‘I am a writer’, ‘I am a researcher’ and then dodging any prompting questions) and wanting to have that discussion in an open-hearted and full-blooded manner (because this is the work that makes my heart beat and I will always be interested in how people live well after trauma). As I’ve become older, I care far less about pretending to be what I’m not or creating euphemisms for what I study and, most importantly, I’ve realised the beauty in having important conversations in random places.
So this blog will be, in many ways, my stumble towards grace as I pull apart things interesting things and try and find beautiful words for the important conversations, and sometimes the far-less-important ones.
How have you coped with trying to introduce yourself?